Thursday, May 25, 2017

Strategic Planning? 10 Tips to Improve Your Outcome

Whether you’re refining your plans, charting an entirely new course or overhauling your brand, strategic planning is an essential step in the life cycle of a successful business. Some tackle the process on their own, while many bring in planning experts to facilitate the process. In either case, here are 10 steps you should take to prepare your team and achieve the best results from the time and resources invested.

1. Invest in the front end

Your team must believe in the process, understand the outcomes you hope to achieve and be prepared to contribute. Meeting with your team members before you begin the formal planning process will help get everyone on the same page and prepare them to bring their expertise to the table.

2. Research

Research your industry to find common market trends you want to identify with or avoid. Consider your company’s strength and the particular industry niche you occupy. Is this where you want to reside in the future?

3. Know your target audience

Who are you trying to reach? Your marketing messages need to be crafted to suit your audience’s specific needs for maximum impact.

4. Have an honest perspective of your company’s current brand image

You know how you want your company to be perceived, but is that the image held by employees, current customers and prospects? Don’t assume you know the answer—ask representatives from those three groups how they perceive you. Does your brand messaging need to be adjusted, or does your brand need to be completely repositioned?

5. Be willing to share ideas

There is no such thing as a bad idea when you’re working through the planning process. Everyone involved should be willing to share their ideas—and this should be a safe environment in which to do that.

6. Set some intermediate deadlines

Have a realistic picture of when you want assignments completed. Know who has tasks to accomplish and be prepared to keep them on schedule. Continue to stress the importance of this process, and reflect it by scheduling process assignments on equal footing with client-related work.

7. Use examples

Find and share examples of marketing pieces, campaigns, slogans, positioning statements and other similar materials that you find appealing. Be ready to explain why you like them. This is particularly important when working with an outside firm, but is also helpful in internal discussions. Your customers and prospects have a wide range of tastes, and those should be reflected in your process as well.

8. Keep an open mind

Refer to #7. Because you have a variety of personalities (hopefully) on your team, some of the ideas presented may seem “outside the box” to you. This will be particularly true if you’ve brought in an expert. Don’t settle for comfortable solutions that keep you doing what you’ve always done. After all, you’re looking for solutions that will set you apart from your competition.

9. Think forward

Your goal is to grow your business, so be prepared to think “down the road.” You’re working on a roadmap to navigate from where you are to where you want to be.

10. Trust the experts

Finally, if you’ve brought in a specialist to help with your planning process, you did it for a reason. This is what they do best. Trust their input and conclusions.


VistaComm has participated and facilitated the planning process for many clients as they sought to grow their business and strengthen their brand. If you’re looking for an expert partner in your strategic planning process, contact us to find out how we can help.

Contact us today

Article Source Here: Strategic Planning? 10 Tips to Improve Your Outcome

Thursday, May 18, 2017

10 Great Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

Research shows that when business owners are asked what they’d like most, they respond first: More customers. Following in close second: Drive more traffic to my website.

Well, I’d like to summarize here what I’ve learned about #2: Driving traffic to your site, because, to me, it’s the #1 way to gain more customers—the #1 “want most.”

Who is your audience?

The first step in marketing in any medium—including online and digital—is KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. Who are you talking to and trying to appeal to? What makes them tick? What do they care about? And who are their friends and business associates?

Give your audience “good stuff.”

Did you know that today there are 164 million blogs online? BUT 71% of these get fewer than 5,000 visitors per month. What’s the problem? CONTENT. If you’re not putting good information out there that your audience cares about and wants to read, they’ll just click on by.

Download website optimization ebookSo, what is good content? It’s news, data, statistics and facts that position you as an expert in your field—someone people want to buy from. It’s reliable information that generates online traffic, leads and sales. It’s not just great content, but the right content that readers want to share with their business associates. And can you guess what happens next? YOUR website traffic grows because of all these new visitors. WIN! WIN!

Once you know your audience and the information they’re looking for, it’s time to dive in and start creating the great content that positions you as the expert.

Now, here are my favorite 10 ways to drive traffic to your website using that great content you created.

1. Start blogging and never stop!

I just want to emphasize this one more time. Blogging works. It does drive traffic to your website. Wordstream.com recently ran an experiment and increased their blogging from twice per week to over 10 posts per week. The result was a 300 percent growth in traffic in just two months. Get EVERYONE in your organization writing blogs and supplying ideas for content.

2. Vary the length and format of your content.

Despite what some would have you believe, there’s no secret recipe for online content. That’s why it’s important to mix it up, trying different lengths and formats to appeal to different kinds of readers. Use video, infographics, news posts, graphs and data, shorter and longer pieces to keep your readers attentive and coming back.

3. Grab ‘em with your headlines.

Without a great headline, even the best blog post will go unread. Master the art of headline writing. The best writers often write more than 20 different headlines before finally settling on the one that will drive the most traffic, so think carefully about your headline before you post.

4. Optimize, optimize!

SEO is not dead. Optimizing your content for search engines is still valuable. Are you creating internal links to new content? Optimizing for on-page SEO doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and it could help boost traffic to your site. 

Drive traffic to your webiste using SEO

5. Attract visitors through advertising.

Paid search, social media advertising and display advertising are all excellent ways of building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Consider your advertising objectives. Do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons. If you’re hoping for more sales as traffic to your site increases, you’ll need to focus on particular keywords in your search strategies.

6. Don’t forget email.

Good ole email. Traditional, yes, but still a powerful marketing tool. You’d be surprised that even a simple email blast can cause an uptick in your online traffic. Word of caution: Avoid relentless emails about every single thing that’s new at your business. Email today must be targeted and relevant. Send a friendly, appropriate email reminder to those already enjoying or familiar with your products and services—chances are much greater for them to engage instead of filtering you to spam or opting out.

7. Make sure your site is responsive.

Today, mobile-friendly sites are a necessity! Don’t lose sight of this. Make sure your visitors can access your site from whatever device they’re holding in their hands. And, if you force upon them an uncomfortable experience—pinching and scrolling around your site—they’ll go elsewhere. Make your website accessible and easily viewable across a range of devices, including smaller smartphones.

responsive website design

8. Research your competition.

Find out what people are reading (and talking about), and emulate that type of content to bring traffic to your website. There is special software that gives you an at-a-glance view of what content is popular with readers. Find out what your competition is putting out there.

9. Make sure your site is fast.

When was the last time you waited 10 or 15 seconds for a webpage to load? Not worth it, is it? If your site takes forever to load, your reader will move on. Kissmetrics has an excellent article showing how load time affects your bottom line. Your website pages need to be technically optimized. This means you need to check your image file sizes, the structure of your pages, and more. The faster your site loads, the better.

10. Examine your analytics data.

Google Analytics is an invaluable source of data for any company with a website. And you really DO need it! The information it gathers—from your most popular pages and visitor demographics to when and where your site traffic is coming from—is invaluable to your efforts to stay up-to-date with your promotional and content strategies. Pay attention to what its telling you and make adjustments.


Want to read more about this topic and others related to growing your business online? Download our free e-book about growing your agribusiness with a hard-working website. Give VistaComm a call to discuss elevating your presence online today.

Contact us today

Original Post Here: 10 Great Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Perfecting Your On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

As I begin this blog, I’m reminded of my days teaching high school English. Addressing my sophomore composition class. Desperately trying to remember all the “tips” I learned in college education classes. A memorable theory comes to mind: “Assume they know nothing!”

Pretty good advice, actually. Advice I’ll take to heart as I begin this little tutorial on Perfecting Your On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO). (Whew! A real mouthful!) This subject can be overwhelming and complicated, so I’m going to start at the beginning with the simplest of concepts—keywords—and hope you’re not offended by the elementary approach.

What are keywords?

When you sit down at your computer to find information on a topic of interest, you go to one of the many search engines—Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.—and type into a search box words or phrases you hope will connect you to the information you want. You receive particular results because they’re related to the words you typed in the box. These keywords triggered the information you were looking for.

OK. You already knew this! Let’s move on . . .

Why are keywords important to your business?

Now, we’re going to switch hats. You’re no longer searching for information online. You—or your company—are the one being searched for. It’s very important to the success of your business that searchers can find you. By using the right keywords within the content on your website, you ensure that potential customers can find you when they start looking.

Download website optimization ebookPretty simple explanation, and you might have known this, too. Stepping it up a little . . .

To optimize means to improve, enhance, elevate or boost.

I’ll bet you can guess what Search Engine Optimization means now—or you might already know. It’s using the BEST keywords in all the RIGHT PLACES so search engines will automatically move your site to the top of the list when an online user is looking for you.

Search engines play a primary role in this whole process as they rank your websites. In addition, they are always working to improve site-ranking RULES they use in order to improve their user experience. With an all-out effort, you can learn these site-ranking rules and USE them to optimize your website.

On-Page SEOHere are the on-page SEO rules that search engines and their users love.

  1. Choose a rich, target keyword.
  2. Use a shorter URL, one that includes your target keyword.
  3. Start your title with your keyword.
  4. Ensure meta tags for pages are completed and contain keywords.
  5. Add modifiers—best, valuable, top—to your target keyword.
  6. Use header tags and include your target keyword in at least one of your subheads.
  7. Be sure images contain alt tags—be sure to include keywords.
  8. Use outbound links to related pages on other websites.
  9. Insert two to three internal links to other areas of your website.
  10. Increase your page speed – visitors won’t wait more than four seconds for your site to load.
  11. Include the social share signals for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.
  12. Post long content—“length is strength” for a higher ranking.
  13. Engaging content—not only long content, but engaging content keeps people reading.
  14. Use video, great images, infographics on your website to engage the visitor and increase the time they spend on your site.

Want to read more about this topic and others related to growing your business online? Download our free e-book about growing your agribusiness with a hard-working website. Give VistaComm a call to discuss elevating your presence online today.

Contact us today

Resource: backlinko.com

Read More Here: Perfecting Your On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Friday, May 5, 2017

10 Ways to Avoid Web Design Disaster

Developing a website design that is both visually stunning and effective at meeting business objectives is no small feat. It requires a productive collaboration between client and web design team, with both playing a vital role in the outcome. Here are 10 ways you can improve this partnership to ensure a positive—and business effective—outcome.

1. Focus on problems, not solutions.

Yes, that sounds wrong. But if you want to get the most from your designer, that is where your focus needs to be. For example, if you are worried that the color choices won’t sit well with your audience, tell your designer—along with the reason for your concern. Then let the designer come up with a solution. In that scenario, both of you are playing to your strengths—you are employing your knowledge of your business and audience, and your designer is utilizing creativity and knowledge of the medium.web design layout

2. Remember: Your web design should focus on user needs and business objectives.

Don’t get bogged down in the details of the design. It’s the designer’s job to worry about the details. Instead, ask yourself two questions. How will users respond to this design? Will it meet my business objectives?

3. Always ask, “Why?”

When people tell you what they think of the design, always ask them why they feel the way they do. Why don’t they like the color? Why do they think the logo should be made bigger? Ask yourself the same questions. Often there are underlying reasons for a reaction towards a design. Giving the designer more than “I just don’t like it” will help find the most appropriate solution. Which leads us to our next point.

web design consult

4. Recognize your personal bias.

Design is very subjective. We all have our opinion when it comes to design—a mental list of images, colors and combinations that we like (or hate). And so does your boss. At the end of the day, it’s not about whether you (or your boss) like the design. The question is, will the prospective user like it?

5. If in doubt (or even if you’re sure), test.

 Let’s revisit personal bias. If you find yourself unsure about the design direction or disagreeing, test the design. And if you love the way things are going, test the design. There are loads of ways you can get feedback from a bigger group of people and none of them need to be time consuming or expensive. Testing the design will give you the confidence, and some hard evidence, that things are heading in the right direction. This blog by Kissmetrics goes in-depth about the way s you can test a website design prior to launch.

6. In the digital world, nothing is permanent.

Unlike the print medium, the web can be changed at any time. Making a design decision doesn’t have to be a life or death choice. If something goes live and users don’t approve, it can be altered with relative ease.

website designer's desk

7. Listen to the research.

Designing a website is not the same as producing a piece of art. There is a considerable amount of science and psychology behind the discipline of digital development, as well as a steady stream of research. Where possible, build on best practices and avoid working from hunches or personal preference.

8. Resist the urge to copy.

There is nothing wrong with looking at your competition, or any other website, for inspiration. In fact, we encourage it. However, blindly following what other people do is usually a mistake.  Your business, goals, customers and prospects are different.  Design a site that reflects who you are, what you want to say and how you plan to do business. Designing a “me-too” site just puts you one step behind.

9. Context is everything. Always consider it.

You and your design team will spend hours discussing the right approach for your website. As a result, you will have a firm grasp of why certain decisions have been made. The danger comes when you present work to colleagues who don’t share that knowledge. Make sure you thoroughly brief anyone viewing the design for the first time so they know the rationale behind what they are seeing.

10. Choose your decision-makers wisely

Because design is subjective, showing it to too many people can muddy the decision-making process. Instead, keep the number of people involved to a select few. Then, canvas their opinions individually to avoid the dreaded “design by committee.”


If you’re looking for a talented web design team, someone to guide you through the process, or both, that’s what we do at VistaComm. We provide next-level marketing services for agribusinesses. Contact us at to learn more.

Contact us today

Article Source Here: 10 Ways to Avoid Web Design Disaster

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Perdue Passes Through Confirmation Process

When the U.S. Senate confirmed a new Secretary of Agriculture today it affirmed the nomination of a former governor, a veterinarian, an agribusiness entrepreneur…and a pilot. As a young man, Sonny Perdue flew a crop duster and, after college but prior to earning his DVM, served as an Air Force pilot.

George Ervin Perdue III still flies, and he qualified as a helicopter pilot while serving as governor of Georgia from 2002 to 2011. He’s been called Sonny since his childhood on a diversified Georgia crop and dairy farm and will be sworn in as ag secretary using the nickname.

[caption id="attachment_2492" align="alignright" width="200"]Sonny_Perdue Sonny Perdue giving a press conference in Montevideo, Uraguay. Photo Credit: US Embassy in Uraguay[/caption]

If Sonny Perdue approaches his new duties in the same way he fulfilled his responsibilities as Georgia governor, expect him to emphasize steps that make the USDA run like a well-maintained combine. Before he left the governor’s office, Perdue told reporters he’d want to be remembered not for some monumental accomplishment but for “making government work.”

Perdue’s record as governor is strong on trade. He established Georgia’s international trade office in Beijing. During his administration, traffic at the port of Savannah increased from 24th busiest in international shipments to 6th. Sonny Perdue led trade delegations to Cuba (a major consumer of Georgia’s poultry) and to South America.

After leaving office, Perdue and cousin David Perdue (a former Dollar General Stores CEO) founded Perdue Partners, an Atlanta company that facilitates exports through “trading, partnerships, consulting services and strategic acquisitions.” (David Perdue was elected to the Senate in 2014 and serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.) Sonny Perdue’s record on trade could resonate with legislators who initially hoped for a Midwestern nominee.

The last three ag secretaries were from Iowa, North Dakota and Nebraska. As a result, farm policy has focused on corn and soybeans. Southerners would prefer subsidy programs more favorable to rice and cotton. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said he wants to help Perdue understand “the unique interests of Midwest agriculture.”

Nevertheless, Republican leaders from the Midwest express optimism about working with Perdue. Backers point to his time on the board of the National Grain and Feed Association and as managing partner of AGrowStar, which operates elevators in Georgia and South Carolina. According to North Dakota’s Senator Hoeven, who met Perdue when they were both governors of their respective states, says “he knows how to work with everybody.”

Article Source Here: Perdue Passes Through Confirmation Process

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Is Your Digital Marketing Hitting the Mark? This checklist can help.

Effective digital marketing is a moving target. The speed of change presents an ongoing challenge to every business serious about maximizing their digital presence and impact. Google, for example, continues to change how they present search results—both paid and organic.

The transition to mobile use in the digital arena is rapidly accelerating. Mobile use now accounts for almost two out of every three digital media minutes, according to a 2016 comScore study. This opens up a whole set of considerations that didn’t exist when desktop computers dominated the digital landscape.

So…how can you increase your digital marketing effectiveness in the coming year? We’re offering this basic checklist as both a place to start the planning process and a way to assess your progress.


Digital Marketing Checklist

Digital marketing checklistStart with your websiteDownload website optimization ebook

  • How did your site perform last year? The better question may be, do you know how to determine site performance?
  • Pretend your site isn’t your site. Try to imagine you’re a first-time visitor and assess how easily you can find your way around. Better yet, recruit a friend or family member—someone who truly is a first-time visitor—and get their feedback.
  • View your site on a tablet or phone. Is it mobile-friendly? If not, what’s your plan to make that transition?
  • What are your competitors doing? Did you like their content? What can you learn from what they are doing—and what do you want to avoid? Again, get input from a third-party visitor.

Consider your content

  • Are you blogging? If so, are your blogs scheduled or created as an afterthought? Do the messages support your overall marketing goals, and do they provide true value to your target audience?
  • Is your content professionally written, or does it fall to the team member who draws the short straw? Do all content pieces (online and offline and external sites) include intelligent, meaningful Calls to Action?
  • Is there a comprehensive content strategy? If not, take the first step and set up an editorial calendar and writing schedule.
  • Are you repurposing your best content to use in multiple channels—web, print, e-news and white papers, for example?

Are you social?

  • Do you have a plan for social media marketing? Is your social media presence the responsibility of a dedicated individual on your staff?
  • Is the content on your social platforms consistent with your overall marketing emphasis and branding, or is it a lonely island?
  • Do you know how to analyze your metrics to determine engagement trends?

Can they find you?

  • Do you have a working knowledge of SEO concepts, or is it a bit of a mystery?
  • If the answer is yes, are you analyzing search phrases that bring traffic to your site? Are you developing web content to connect with these interests?
  • Are you maximizing key SEO items in each blog post?

You’ve got mail

  • Is your email capture strategy growing your list?
  • How was your email marketing performance for opens and clicks?
  • Were you communicating regularly? Are you using your best repurposed content to increase your impact?

These are basic questions that will help point you in the right direction, and really just the tip of the iceberg. They may also reveal some areas in your digital plan that you have overlooked or underrepresented. If you need additional guidance, have questions or believe a fresh perspective would be helpful, contact us. This is what we do every day.

Contact us today

Read More Here: Is Your Digital Marketing Hitting the Mark? This checklist can help.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

3 Ways Employees Can Help Protect Your Brand—Compliments of United Airlines

Sometimes, the best way to learn what to do is by observing what not to do. Case in point:

United Airlines overbooked a flight. Offered passengers $800 travel vouchers to get off the plane and take another flight. Not enough people took the bait, so a passenger was forcibly removed from the plane. The video exploded on social media. United Continental Holdings (UAL) market value dropped $250 million in the next day’s trading.

This incident goes to show how one false step can cause major headaches for a brand. And while your company may not have the brand name recognition of United Airlines, there’s something to be learned from their situation.

3 ways employees can help protect your brand story

  1. Share your brand story with employees
    Make sure employees understand that your brand story is more than just the products and services you sell. It encompasses everything customers believe and feel about your business. Take advantage of company gatherings to share your brand story with employees. Make sure they understand your organization’s overall purpose, and what this means to the people you serve.
  2. Task employees with sharing your brand story
    Employees are your brand ambassadors. They can promote (or devalue) your brand by how they interact with people and what they say on social media. So, it’s important employees understand their vital role in communicating your brand story. Give them examples (such as the United Airline story) of how their actions can impact your brand … for better or worse.
  3. Empower employees to use common sense
    Your company has policies and procedures, and employees are expected to abide by those rules. Yet, it’s important to empower supervisors and frontline employees to use common sense.

Getting employees on board after a merger

Companies often spend considerable time educating their target audiences after a merger—but perhaps not so much time educating employees. Even though employees have new business cards or wear new uniforms, they don’t necessarily understand or embrace the merged company’s brand story.

United Airlines has struggled with its image ever since it merged with Continental Airlines in 2010. Perhaps the most recent incident is just one example of employees not knowing what United’s brand story is … or how to communicate it.

VistaComm has 20+ years experience helping agriculture businesses and farm cooperatives develop and share their brand stores. Contact us for ideas to help your business.


Want help sharing the brand story for your ag business?

That’s VistaComm.

START THE CONVERSATION–TALK WITH US TODAY.

Read More Here: 3 Ways Employees Can Help Protect Your Brand—Compliments of United Airlines

Thursday, April 6, 2017

One Simple Digital Marketing Trick You May Have Missed

Download website optimization ebookOk, I’m embarrassed to admit it. But as a journalist rather than a programmer, I used to look at a website, note the link labeled “sitemap” on the page, and think, “What’s the point? Isn’t that what the navigation is for? Why does anyone need a map? What is an XML sitemap?”

News flash. It’s not a map for people, but for bots.

Oh.

XML Sitemaps, and their importance in the world of digital marketing, can still be a mystery to many who enjoy only a casual relationship with the technical side of website development and SEO enhancement. At VistaComm, they are a mandatory addition to every website we create. Here is a quick explanation of what XML Sitemaps are, what they bring to the table and why you should care.

First: What is an XML sitemap?

What is a sitemap? Here’s a basic explanation straight from Google. “A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.”

[caption id="attachment_2532" align="aligncenter" width="608"]what is an XML sitemap Here is an example of an XML sitemap created by YoastSEO[/caption]

 

A sitemap can also provide information about specific pages, such as when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed and the importance of the page relative to others in the site.

Now: Why do you need one?

As in, why is this important. Ultimately, a sitemap helps with search engine optimization because it makes it easier for Google to find out about the content on your site so they can serve it up in the search results.

Here are some of the many other benefits of using an XML sitemap.

  • Content alerts: Search engine rankings are now driven by content. Consistently placing fresh, relevant content on your site improves your visibility. A sitemap notifies Google whenever your site content is modified.
  • Sitemap = roadmap: The whole point of website creation is to be found online, and having an XML sitemap will bring traffic to your site more quickly. This is particularly important for new websites.
  • Emphasize the important: Sitemaps let you assign a priority to your web pages. This means that the pages carrying your most important content will be crawled and indexed faster than those with a lower value.
  • Faster flow: Most content is better fresh, especially news. With a sitemap, spiders will find your fresh content faster...and so will your visitors.
  • Continuing education: You can learn a lot about your visitors by monitoring your sitemap reports. You can track traffic sources, perform keyword searches and pinpoint errors to improve site performance. This information can help you improve your content and attract more traffic.

Creating a sitemap is a routine part of every website we design at VistaComm, but it is only one small part of a comprehensive digital marketing plan that can increase your online impact. For more information about our digital marketing program, contact us today.

Contact us today

Original Post Here: One Simple Digital Marketing Trick You May Have Missed

Friday, March 31, 2017

How You Can Steer Customers to Think Value … Not Just Price

First, a little background: According to the USDA’s February 2017 Farm Income Forecast, net farm income will decline by 8.7% this year. That’s the fourth consecutive year of the downward slide. And last year’s record crops did little to soften the blow for farmers.

So what are farmers doing to “keep the lights on” during this downturn? For starters, they’re looking for ways to spend less and produce more—not an easy formula to master. And they’re likely pushing for lower prices on input costs.

As an ag marketer, that puts you in an awkward position. Do you cut your margins (which are already razor thin) so you can give price-sensitive customers the breaks they want? Or do you hold steady on prices, and search for ways to add more value for customers?

According to Will Secor, A Purdue University ag economist, you might see some short-term gains by dropping prices. But it’s a different story in the long run.

Effect of cutting prices to gain sales during a tough ag economy:

  • Erodes value perceptions of your brand.
  • Reveals just how much margin is built into your prices.
  • Makes it difficult to raise prices in the future.

As an alternative, Secor suggests getting a better understanding of what your customers and prospects find most valuable in the products and services they use. Then adjust your offerings to communicate value during this economic downturn.

The difference between price and value

A cheap price focuses on what your customer pays, not what they get. Whereas value focuses on getting more for the money they spend.

In terms of marketing in agriculture, value means more than the seed, chemicals or feed you’re selling. It means everything that goes with it—expertise, delivery, application, grain marketing and more. And it goes even further than that.

  • There’s value in working with an ag business your farm customers trust.
  • There’s value in doing business with an ag cooperative where farmer members share in profits.
  • There’s value in supporting a local business, which in turn supports local employees and the communities in which they all live.

How to zero in on what your customers value most

According to an Insights from Purdue University article, you should find out what your customers value most about your products or services by asking questions like these:

  1. How do farmers compare product performance versus price? How do volume or quantity discounts figure in?
  2. What is important to farm customers in terms of delivery time, financing, technical support and warranties?
  3. What does service mean to them?
    • Do they see it as traditional services, such as fertilizer applications?
    • Do they want data support and analysis?
  4. Are they loyal to a brand? Which brand? How loyal?
  5. How important are the relationships with their salesperson?

To get an even better understanding of the purchase decision process for agricultural inputs, faculty from Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture have developed a buyer decision specification tool.

Consider using this tool with a cross section of customers. Tabulate the results in order of importance. Then communicate to your customers how your ag business or farm cooperative delivers on these points of value. Get your salespeople on board. Make sure they communicate value face-to-face with customers.

As you face the challenges of yet another annual decline in farm income, it makes sense to rethink how you position your products and services. From a marketing standpoint, this impacts what you say … and how you say it.

VistaComm has helped farm cooperatives and ag businesses for the last 20 years retain … and grow … sales numbers—even during down cycles like the current one. Find out what we offer to support your efforts.

Contact us today

 

See More Here: How You Can Steer Customers to Think Value … Not Just Price

Monday, March 20, 2017

We Love Ag, Yes We Do

If you like to eat, prefer to wear clothes and drive a vehicle, you’re a fan of American agriculture—whether you know it or not. Well, this is the week to join the rest of the nation in making your fond feelings known. March 21 is National Ag Day, falling right in the middle of National Ag Week, March 19-25.

First celebrated in 1973, National Ag Day is about recognizing, and celebrating, the contribution of agriculture to our everyday lives. Every year, ag producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and communities across America join together to highlight the importance of agriculture to our nation and the world.

The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

VistaComm is proud to be a part of the agricultural community and to have the privilege of working with so many companies directly involved in the production of food, fiber and renewable energy.

Throughout the week, we'll be sharing a few fun numbers on our Facebook page that help illustrate the diversity, and importance, of the American ag industry. Like our page to follow along!

Learn More Here: We Love Ag, Yes We Do

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nine Ideas to Promote Your Business and Increase C-Store Traffic

Pardon me for stating the obvious, but convince your pay-at-the-pump customers to enter your store and income will increase. Are you inviting people in?

According to a recent study, customers who paid for gas and drove away told researchers they didn’t need anything inside. You know better, of course, because everybody needs something, and in a small town your store is often the only resource.

So here are six notions for bringing customers indoors and three ways you might encourage a connection in the community’s you serve.

  • What’s not to like? Take a hint from Little Orphan Annie in A Christmas Story and give your Facebook supporters a special reward for loyalty. How about first notice of upcoming sales? A Facebook loyalty club doesn’t stop you from promoting your sale to all customers, but it reinforces a relationship with those who show you a little love.
  • The 360-degree fill. Offer something tasty with a fill-up, like a cookie or a doughnut. Naturally, the customer must come inside to claim that sweet reward and, in general, doughnuts go down better with something to drink. According to a 2015 CSP-FARE State of Foodservice study, retailers believe breakfast items offer the most potential sales growth.
  • It’s easy to get pumped. Chain outlets advertise at the pump. Do the same thing, but in a hometown way. Sharing a localized message could be very impactful with local customers. Just be sure to update your posters often and never leave your signs out in the rain. (What’s your message? See suggestions 4 and 5.)
  • Tell ‘em what’s new. Your marketing plan undoubtedly includes introducing new items in your product mix from time to time. But do you alert customers? Tout a new coffee flavor or anything. “Have you tried our new ____?” (Just because it’s an old tactic doesn’t mean it’s wrong!)
  • And while you’re at it…any improvement deserves a shout-out. “Introducing our new coffee-making system!” “Compliment us on our slushy maker today and your 16-ounce cup is free!” “Now offering fresh fruit! Enjoy a half-price banana with your donut today!”
  • Cultivate core co-op members. During planting season or harvest, put your lunch menu in high gear by taking phone orders for sandwiches. Post your menu and daily specials online, or send them via email and/or text to make it easier for the busy farmers. Also consider adding something extra for farmers, their families and employees. “Free apples for busy farmers today!”
  • Put a face on your support of local events. A sign in the window? Meh, anybody can do that. Help man a booth (always in your logo shirts). Don’t just donate water bottles for a 5K; be there yourself to greet finishers.
  • Serve up commitment. Enlarge on your nominal financial support of youth projects. When there’s a push underway for new uniforms or equipment, encourage customers to match your gift. Tell them you’ll share a percentage of pizza or sandwich sales.
  • What would employees do? Match employees’ personal interests and involvement to your support of local events. If John plans to attend the local car show on his own, pay him the hour or two he’ll spend directing entrants to parking spots. (And again, I say, John ought to wear something that identifies him as your proud employee). The same goes for the 4-H fair or any exciting thing happening in your town.

There are obviously many other ideas you can use to drive traffic into your c-store. Whether you are using point-of-sale promotions at the pump, digital marketing, public relations or direct mail, all can be effective with the right messaging and promotion. Not all promotions are guaranteed to work 100%, but until you’ve tried everything you (and I) can think of, you don’t know. VistaComm has helped cooperatives and local c-store retailers market to their communities for over 20 years. Put our experienced staff to work for you to help drive traffic into your business.

Contact us today

Article Source Here: Nine Ideas to Promote Your Business and Increase C-Store Traffic

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Trusted Advisor—Communicating Value Through Brand Storytelling

While everyone wants to hold the coveted title of the farmer’s “trusted advisor,” the rapid expansion of technology into the world of agriculture is forcing a change from “advisor” to “advisors.” Most agree that precision technology, its application to equipment and inputs, and the data generated by the IoT is where the action will be for the foreseeable future.

Consequently, the sheer volume of knowable information through which producers must now sort virtually guarantees they will need to work with a team of experts—each functioning in a specific role—to successfully run their business.

agronomist advisorKnowing what particular role (or roles) you play in the precision adoption and application process, and aggressively pursuing the knowledge and skilled staff to achieve an edge in your niche, will likely determine future success. Communicating that role through brand storytelling is critical in ensuring your customers and prospects know the value you bring to their operation.

In a recent article in Precision Ag Professional magazine, Darren Goebel, Director of Global Commercial Crop Care for AGCO, outlined some of the roles that various trusted advisors could best serve.

Retailers/Cooperatives. “As precision agriculture evolves, the ag retailer could become the major driving force in this segment. Because retailers have access to crop protection products, seed, fertilizer, and application equipment, they may be in the best place to provide start to finish service. In other words, to ‘just make it work.’”

Consultants. “Their value proposition remains as an unbiased provider of information. I believe consultants can bring together equipment providers, agronomic insights, and the best seed and crop protection options for growers. Consultants may be able to specialize in precision agriculture by carving out an important niche in this space.”

partnering with farmersEquipment dealers. “I believe the equipment companies and dealers that are most successful in the precision agriculture space will be the ones that can provide the best service. Uptime is extremely important to growers, especially with the pressure to have timely planting, fertilizing, and pest control. Dealers that have precision agriculture departments that proactively work with ag retailers, consultants, and growers will be held in high regard among farmers, leading to higher sales. It will likely be difficult for equipment dealers to provide the same quality of prescriptions and agronomic advice as ag retailers, consultants, and seed dealers without significant investment in people resources.”

Seed dealers. “Seed dealers have more information about genetics than any of their cohorts, and they have the information much earlier in the hybrid’s or variety’s lifecycle than anyone else. As variable-rate, multi-hybrid, and multi-variety become the norm, the seed dealer will play a more and more important role in data-driven decision-making to ensure accurate placement by soil texture, drainage class, and productivity level.”

So, what’s your strength?

Where do you fit into the picture? Are you strong in one of the niches above, several…or none? What you have done as a business to embrace the precision revolution, strengthen your position in your marketing footprint and evolve with technology will likely determine your success as the next generation transitions into leadership roles on the farm.

Feeling as comfortable as possible with your position? Great. There’s one more consideration. Do your current and potential customers know what you have to offer, what sets you apart, how good you are and, most importantly, how you can solve their problems? This is all a part of the brand story you need to tell.

Use brand storytelling to reach farmers

This is the point at which technical expertise and strong communication must mesh. How are you letting your customer know when you have a new product, service or technical expert to offer? Are you using the appropriate channels to connect with all segments of your audience?

According to a recent study* of agricultural producers, farmers who are learning about a new product or farming technique tend to turn first to university and extension advisers. When the time comes to purchase that product or adopt that technique, they attach more trust to ag retailers and dealers. Overall, the top influencer in a producer’s decision-making process was their agronomist, followed closely by their retailer or dealer.

In this age of instant connections, information is the new capital. Earn—or cement—your status as trusted advisors by providing the actionable knowledge ag producers are looking for to inform their decisions. We can help you with the what, when and how.

Contact us today

*“Future of Communications Audience Insights Study,” Bader Rutter

Originally Published Here: Trusted Advisor—Communicating Value Through Brand Storytelling

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Merge Ahead: Using Community Outreach to Build Customer Loyalty

Once the merger vote passes, you’re now one big cooperative. And that’s when the real work begins: new signs, new licenses, consolidated billing and the list goes on. But along with those formalities, it’s important to pay attention to the human side of the merger during your communication to maintain and build customer loyalty through community outreach.


The number of co-ops in Kansas has fallen from 350 in the 1950s to approximately 80.1
The number of co-ops in Oklahoma has fallen from 243 in 1980 to only 50.1

How do you unite all of your locations under your merged co-op? It’s more than just putting a new logo on elevators or agronomy vehicles. Farmers in outlying locations need to feel connected to the newly merged co-op.

One thing is for certain: Your farmer-patrons in new locations will keep a watchful eye to see how the changes will benefit—or hurt—them and their local community.

Connecting with all locations through community outreach

Community involvement has always been a cornerstone of the farm cooperative model. And now, with the trend toward fewer large cooperatives serving more communities, it’s important to establish a spirit of goodwill that stretches across your entire service area. Ensure that post-merger communication showcases your dedication to community involvement throughout the area.

Following are some ideas for community involvement. You’re probably doing some of these already. Just think in terms of how you can extend community outreach activities to include locations that are new to your merged cooperative to build loyalty among those communities and co-op members.

  • Start a special promotion at c-stores. For example, “1% Wednesday.” Your cooperative donates 1% of the location’s gross sales on a specific Wednesday of each month to benefit a nonprofit organizations selected by the local co-op members. The beneficiary could rotate each month to include school organizations, food banks and other specific local needs.
  • Host get-to-know-us lunches at locations. Invite area farmers to meet the people they may interact with from the headquarters, such as management, accounting, agronomy, grain marketing and energy staff members.
  • Establish school education programs focusing on items such as farm safety or grain marketing.
  • Support local FFA and other student organizations in all area high schools.
  • Make scholarships available to all high school students throughout your trade area.
  • Consider sponsorships of local events such as parades, festivals and sports events.
  • Sponsor adopt-a-highway programs across your trade area.

Rural Community Parade and Cookout

As the trend toward mergers continues, connecting with farmers across a broad trade area will become a natural part of operations … whether your cooperative covers two counties or five counties … has 500 members or 5,000.

By starting as soon as possible after the merger, you can set the groundwork for positive communication and acceptance throughout your cooperative.


Want to talk with someone who can help you with all the communication details of a merger?
That’s VistaComm.

Contact us today

 

Learn More Here: Merge Ahead: Using Community Outreach to Build Customer Loyalty

Thursday, February 23, 2017

“Retell the Story” – Part 3 of a 3-Part Post on Merger Communications

merger voteThe member vote is over, and the merger has been approved. The need for further merger communications is over, right? Wrong.

The proposed union between cooperatives may have been approved, but the success of the union is still far from guaranteed. In fact, the crucial blending of systems and culture is still ahead. Much must be accomplished to secure the benefits of this union, both for members and employees.

Failure of an accounting system switchover or the resignation of key employees can still move emotional meters from positive to negative—even after a vote. More talent and sales may be lost if you do not continue to communicate the progress, challenges and reasons for the merger.

Merger is messy

One of the most unfortunate misunderstandings between the board and members, or between management and employees, is that a merger or acquisition is complete when a positive vote is obtained. The average member may be under the impression that the tough part is over. They make think that all will now be well and benefits will accrue.

This is naïve and dangerous. Accounting systems can fail, personalities can blow up and whole departments can mutiny in the process of putting two organizations together. Merger is messy. Members and employees should be prepared for a protracted period of 6 to 12 months of semi-chaos as employee groups are combined, facilities are consolidated and systems are synced.

One big thing a merger communications plan can do is keep you talking with the stakeholders after a vote.

Merger meetingRemind them why you merged

Good merger communications will include regular progress reports after the vote and the effective date of the merger. In these reports, you should highlight the headway you are making at unifying both systems and cultures.

When a glitch occurs—and it will—apologize to both members and employees. Thank them for their patience, and spell out the steps you are taking to correct the problem.

Frequently remind both members and employees of why the board of directors backed the merger. This reminder should include the benefits to both stakeholder groups—which may not materialize for several months or even years.

In Part 1 of this blog series, I referred to a great co-op manager who practiced making his members “partners” to anything major that happened within the company.

“Before we get started, I tell them what we’re going to do and why we are going to do it,” he stated. “Then, after we start, I tell them what we’re doing and I remind them of why we’re doing it.”

This manager, who taught me much about co-op communications, had one more piece of advice. “After it’s over, I tell the members what we did and I remind them again of why we did it,” he said.

Even after the vote is taken and the merger papers are signed, keep telling your members and employees why you did what you did. Don’t assume they remember. Hopefully, this persistence in communication will give you the “honeymoon” you need to get your merged organization on an even keel and growing into the future.

DAve AeiltsSenior journalist Dave Aeilts has been helping VistaComm clients with merger and acquisition communications for more than two decades. If your organization needs help communicating change, or even starting a communication program, put our expertise to work for you.

Contact us today

Original Post Here: “Retell the Story” – Part 3 of a 3-Part Post on Merger Communications

Thursday, February 16, 2017

“Don’t Forget Employees” – Part 2 of a 3-Part Post on Merger Communications

It may seem elementary to advise those of you involved in merger discussions to not forget to communicate with the employees involved. However, we often place so much attention on selling the members and making sure they own the initiative that we neglect the very folks who could derail a successful union: the staff.

We shouldn’t. Employees are closest to the day-to-day operation of any organization. That means they are most likely to first learn unofficially that merger or acquisition talks are underway.

In a way, employees have the most at stake in a merger. Members can take their business elsewhere if they don’t like your “Explanation of Benefits.” In his or her mind, an employee is without a vote and stuck with the results.

If they don’t see a benefit, they may decide to leave. This can cause a huge loss of talent and experience. Even before that, disgruntled employees may contribute to sinking a deal. Cooperative employees have frequent contact with members, which means they have the potential to cast a proposed merger in a negative light, unless convinced otherwise.

Moreover, in a rural cooperative, the employee is most likely a neighbor of the member. He or she probably attends the same church, shops in the same local stores and attends the same school and sporting events. The likelihood that a member’s attitude towards a proposed merger may be influenced by an employee’s attitude is extremely high.

 

Convince employees of the benefits


At the very least, assure employees that little will change, but only if that is true.
If it is not, you will face bigger problems when you try to implement the merger.

The heads of two cooperatives that recently merged made the point that their geographies did not overlap. Therefore, there would be no reduction of staff—at least in the foreseeable future. That is a good start. This at least allayed the fears of employees that they may be fired immediately because of duplication.

But there is room to cultivate even greater employee allegiance to a proposed merger. A client of mine makes the point, with every expansion, that “this growth will create future opportunities for current employees.” Again, you only want to state that if it is true. But if it is, it assures both staffs that the proposed union will benefit them rather than harm them.

You can go even further by admitting that, even in the most perfect union, there will be cultural and policy differences that must be worked out. Then express the commitment of the boards and management to working out these differences.

 

Make employees your unofficial voice

Back to the earlier point that employees have the most day-to-day contact with members, why not utilize that fact to your advantage? Keep the employees well informed. Give them talking points on issues you know the members will ask about. That way, when members encounter a driver delivering a load of feed or an employee dumping grain at the elevator, they are more likely to get the straight story instead of a fearfully twisted version of the proposed union.

Remember: Your employees probably have the most to lose or gain in the short run from a proposed merger or acquisition. Make sure they own the initiative and can speak intelligently and positively about the prospect. The members, their friends and next door neighbors are more likely to listen to them than the CEO or board president.


Senior journalist Dave Aeilts has been helping VistaComm clients with merger and acquisition communications for more than two decades. Be sure to visit the VistaComm blog site again for Part 2 of Dave’s 3-part series on merger communication, “Don’t forget employees.” If your organization needs help communicating change, or even starting a communication program, put our expertise to work for you.

Contact us today

See More Here: “Don’t Forget Employees” – Part 2 of a 3-Part Post on Merger Communications

Thursday, February 9, 2017

“What’s in It For Me?” – Part 1 of a 3-Part Series on Merger Communications

Does it seem like all the cooperatives around you are engaged in merger or acquisition talks? The flagging farm economy and global competition has resulted in an increase in unions. The number of co-ops in the country has dropped from 6,445 to about 2,100 over the past four decades, and the pace of consolidation is accelerating.

Perhaps you are just beginning to talk with the CEO of another company or your board has scheduled its initial meeting to discuss the feasibility of joining forces. Now is the time to make a plan to communicate with your members, employees and the surrounding communities. It’s not a question of whether or not your informal or formal discussions with another co-op or company will get out—it’s a matter of when.  That is why you need a plan that will advance the truth before the rumor mill kicks in.

That plan should involve:

The Schedule. Detail when you will communicate. Will you release a statement initially, telling the members and the general public you are involved in talks? Or will you wait until you have substantial evidence of benefit and are ready to schedule a member vote?

The Content. What will be the substance of your communication? Most importantly, how will you answer the members’ all-important question, “What is in it for me?”

Tell members early

Releasing as much truth as you can as soon as you can to members and the general public is to your advantage. It’ll help avoid potential negative facts being invented and passed around the coffee shop. For example, you don’t want someone to say: “I heard from Fred that the co-op is trying to sell out our good name and move our headquarters far, far away.” Instead, you want the banter to be the latest information you released: “This merger will improve agronomy services because a larger fleet will be able to move applicators from one part of our expanded market area to another—depending on the weather. Members will get faster service in the spring.”

Make them partners in the deal

The worst thing that can happen in co-op merger talks is for a member to look at the deal from an outsider’s perspective. In a private company, a shareholder who has received dividends over the years is much more likely to abide secrecy in merger negotiations than a co-op member. He or she has been told repeatedly, "You own and control the company.” Moreover, it is not just dividends that a co-op member is after. It is service and a fair price. The results of a merger are far more personal to a member who needs to feel like they are part of any deal. The earlier your members can “own” a proposed merger, the more likely they are to record an enthusiastic “yes” either by their patronage of an acquisition or by their vote to merge.

Member meeting on merger communications

A co-op manager I worked with had a practice of making the members a partner to anything major that happened within the company, whether it was an expansion of facilities and services, a merger or an acquisition.

“Before we get started, I tell them what we’re going to do and why we are going to do it,” he said. “Then, after we’ve started, I tell them what we’re doing and remind them of why we’re doing it.” In doing so, this manager made the members feel like, “This is my project!” The expansion, merger or acquisition became an extension of what they were doing on their own farm or ranch—so they supported it.

What’s in it for me?

The bottom line of successful merger communication is to keep the question “What’s in it for me?” top of mind. A proposed union may save money by sharing the cost of certain fixed assets or spreading insurance premiums over a larger organization. It may provide greater buying power or a healthier market for the grain your cooperative handles. But if you fail to translate that into direct or indirect member benefits, the initiative may not succeed. Why? The members may not see a personal advantage in voting “yes” or in continuing to do business with the larger organization.

Before releasing any information on merger talks, scheduled votes or potential union dates, always ask, “Does this information answer the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question our members are sure to ask?’”


Senior journalist Dave Aeilts has been helping VistaComm clients with merger and acquisition communications for more than two decades. Be sure to visit the VistaComm blog site again for Part 2 of Dave’s 3-part series on merger communication, “Don’t forget employees.” If your organization needs help communicating change, or even starting a communication program, put our expertise to work for you.

Contact us today

 

Learn More Here: “What’s in It For Me?” – Part 1 of a 3-Part Series on Merger Communications

Friday, February 3, 2017

Tolstoy Windchiler 5K Raises MoreThan $3,000 for Labs For Liberty

Fifty-five runners and walkers crossed the finish line in Tolstoy, South Dakota, on January 21, to raise more than $3,000 for the Labs for Liberty program. Here, Sabot, finishing in 10th place on a balmy 28-degree day in north central South Dakota, poses with his trainer/caretaker, Katie Nold. Late in 2017, Sabot will be paired with a South Dakota veteran, and Katie will take on another Lab for Liberty, supplementing her part-time duties as a creative freelance journalist for VistaComm.

Source Here: Tolstoy Windchiler 5K Raises MoreThan $3,000 for Labs For Liberty

Friday, January 27, 2017

Volunteering at the 2017 Sioux Empire Farm Show

For the third year in a row, I had the opportunity to help the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce by volunteering at the swine competition during the Sioux Empire Farm Show at the fairgrounds. Coming from a farm, I’m no stranger to livestock, but growing up, we did not raise or show them. The closest I ever got was in high school, earning a little spending money doing occasional chores for area farmers. Showing livestock competitively is a whole new world to me, and I enjoy seeing the hard work and dedication that the kids put into these competitions.

Despite the winter storm, we had a great turnout again this year. Congratulations to all those who participated in the event and thank you to those involved who make it all happen behind the scenes.

 

[caption id="attachment_2286" align="aligncenter" width="750"]Senior Showmanship Competition After a very smooth swine show. We're wrapping up for the day with showmanship competitions.[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_2287" align="aligncenter" width="750"]2017 Sioux Empire Farm Show Swine Our judge stands at the end of the show rink during the senior showmanship competition to have participants drive their pigs towards him.[/caption]

 

Originally Published Here: Volunteering at the 2017 Sioux Empire Farm Show

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Website Design: Does Your Site Pass These Three Critical Tests?

Your website is so much more than just an address and a placeholder on the web—or at least, it should be. For the online visitor, it’s your storefront, your image, your first impression.

How do you determine whether your site is “good” or not?

When looking at your existing website, or designing a new website, here are three quick questions to ask. Does it look professional and inviting? Does it load quickly? Can a first-timer find what they’re looking for fast?

Download website optimization ebookLook sharp

Our average attention span is now eight seconds. That’s how long your site has to make that first impression. So…does your website immediately come across as credible, trustworthy, professional, approachable and solid—like a friendly, yet firm, handshake? Does it make your visitors feel welcome?

Making that favorable first impression is the responsibility of the web designer. But even an attractive design doesn’t guarantee your site will accomplish the goal of attracting and retaining visitors.

Website speed is no longer optional

A snazzy website design is worthless if it doesn’t load … and load quickly. The eight-second rule no longer applies here. Research by Doubleclick (Google) says that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load. In fact, with Google's new mobile-first index, sites with slower load times are penalized in organic search rankings.

The fact is, bells and whistles can be a distraction—especially in the world of agribusiness. Make sure that flashy animation and video are necessary to communicate key points about your ag products or services. If so, then run with it. Just be sure to employ development techniques that don’t harm the performance of your website.

Navigation is key

Think of website navigation as a street map. Your site visitor wants to know where to go next … and it should be obvious. There are some great tools out there today that allow you to gather data on how customers interact with your website navigation and content. This allows you to visually see what they are doing, and make changes to your site to optimize every page. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when looking at your site's navigation:

  • Keep navigation simple. It should be very easy for the reader to go from the general content on your home page to the more specific content on the rest of your site.
  • Include links within your page copy. And make it clear where those links go.
  • Ensure contact information or next actions are easily visible on all pages. This is often the key piece of information sought by visitors to your site.
  • Add internal links within the text of your web pages. This allows readers to “jump” to more detailed info on other parts of your website.

mobile friendly webiste design

Does your website fall short on one or more of these criteria for success? We can help.

Source Here: Website Design: Does Your Site Pass These Three Critical Tests?

Friday, January 20, 2017

4 Steps to Turn Website Visitors into Customers

The next generation of producers are beginning to be more involved in the decisions made on the farm. From checking commodities, product research and more, studies show they are more likely to utilize ag website information during their decision process than the past generations. More than just your company’s face on the web, your website holds the potential to be one of your most powerful marketing assets. To fulfill its promise, your website needs to be part of an overall content marketing strategy. Such a strategy may consist of multiple tactics to attract customers to your site, engage them with quality content and make you their trusted resource for the information they seek. The key, however, is that the tactics you choose all work together through a well-thought-out plan.

Step 1 – Draw them in

Of course, the best content in the world does you no good if it’s not seen. That’s why the first step—attracting visitors—may also be the most important. To do this, you first have to identify the audience you want to attract. Who do you want your content to speak to? By providing valuable information on topics they’re interested in, you’ll build a loyal audience.

Now, how do you attract visitors to your site to view your excellent content? Employ these traffic drivers:

  • Google Display – target customers with visual ads that appear across the web in their areas of interest.
  • Native Ads – target potential customers with ads that blend into the website they appear on—positioning your agribusiness as a trusted resource.
  • Social Media Marketing – attract customers from the social media channels they are active on using detailed audience profiles.
  • Retargeting – bring visitors back to your site by targeting them after they’ve left your page.
  • Search Engine Optimization – help prospects and customers find you by having a technically fit website and optimized content—ensuring higher visibility on search engine rankings.
  • Google Adwords – determine what keywords and geography are crucial for your agribusiness, and then make sure you get found when customers search Google.

Step 2 – Convert them

So now you have visitors who trust your site for the information they find there. That’s a big first step. Now you need to meet them. Make sure your site has multiple ways to capture leads. Use forms, call-to-action buttons, links or landing pages to gather key information from your visitors.

Step 3 – Close the deal

The personal touch is the key to nurturing those leads into customers. Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program and other marketing tools to keep track of potential customers and your interactions with them.

Step 4 – Create brand evangelists

Finally, delight customers by continuing to engage with them and providing great service, so they essentially become promoters of your brand through their purchase habits and interactions with your business—and with others. Word-of-mouth referrals are better advertising than you can ever purchase.

Contact us today

 

Post Source Here: 4 Steps to Turn Website Visitors into Customers